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But, I really don't have time to practice!

When I graduated from Oberlin after my undergraduate degree, I moved to a new city to be with my boyfriend. I was filled with optimism with all the wonderful knowledge I had learned in my degree, and thankfully some great entrepreneurship tools provided by a music business class that was offered. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I knew I could do it. I also worked outside music throughout my whole undergraduate career so I knew I could earn money doing something.

We moved into our apartment and money was tight so I jumped at some of the first opportunities to make money that came up. One was a super early morning shift at a bakery and the other was a telemarketing job that started at 5pm. I'd have maybe an hour to an hour and a half free between 5am and 9pm. I got home exhausted, and it was already too late to practice in our living situation as the building had thin walls. I was routinely working 12 hours a day.

I was not deterred, I found some students and local semi-professional groups to play with. They were a godsend. I would get my flute out for those things and little else. I was miserable. I was surrounded by students at the local university and professionals at the symphony but I was part of neither group. In neither place could I find true community. Many were welcoming and warm to me, but no one understood what I was going through.

As if on autopilot I applied for masters programs, I needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Somehow I pulled together an audition tape with this crazy schedule using the muscle memory I had built up during undergrad. If I had even 5-10 mins I would pull my flute out and play some scales or something just to keep my air moving and my face somewhat in shape.

Then I got an email, a youth orchestra that I auditioned for probably a year earlier when I was still in school invited me to come for a month long tour of Europe. Luckily, I wasn't too attached to my jobs and my students would wait. I jumped on it and used my last savings to pay for the plane ticket there. It was an incredible experience, and it gave me the courage to go through with the few masters auditions that I did land.

Coming back I just kept the bakery job, and my students. I think I had one or two at the time. I was focused on trying to get out, and get back to music making. Luckily my boyfriend's position was just one year, and as a musician himself he understood. I've never felt as far away from my flute as I did during those months before going to Europe. It was lonely and demoralizing. I know this is the experience so many face, especially those without the few entrepreneurship skills that I had developed.

Does this resonate with you? There are so many great resources so you can find community and the strength to keep going. Check out You Have Time to Practice, Flute 360 and so many other amazing flute groups on the web to find your people and come out the other side.


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